Evolutionary biologist and writer Richard Dawkins says he suspects religion is "dying" in New Zealand and that's a good thing for science and education.

"...Science is advancing all time and religion is not, and religion is slowly dying," Professor Dawkins told TV3 show The Nation today.

"It's dying much faster in some countries than others. It's dying very fast in western and northern Europe, I suspect in New Zealand as well."

Prof Dawkins said human understanding of science, and of phenomena such as evolution, improved when religious groups were less influential.


Prof Dawkins is credited for coining the word "meme" in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, and frequently sparked controversy with his outspoken views on religion.

He told The Nation he was especially critical of Islam because the religion had an aggressive agenda.

"Well, Islam is the only religion that's at the moment positively dangerous. It's the only religion that is actually attempting to infiltrate the rest of the world and to take it over and, in some cases, actually by violent means. So I think anybody just looking at the politics of the situation would have to worry about it."

He said 500 years ago, Christianity was similarly dangerous but today its "teeth have been drawn".

Prof Dawkins said on Twitter last week he was considering a visit to New Zealand soon.